Chibi Robo! (Gamecube) Review

Click here to view the Chibi Robo! (Gamecube) description page for more information.

Review by The Every Gamer (February 2018)

Score: A-

   Nintendo has a plethora of franchises to their name, the longevity of which can depend on how much either we or Nintendo care about a particular franchise. Nintendo loves their Mario series, or even their Zelda series, mostly because they’re the ones that are more likely to sell regardless of quality. Then there are franchises that people want but, Nintendo leaves to die like F-Zero and previously Metroid, or making a game from a series we wanted, but it isn’t the experience people wanted.

   But then there are franchises that Nintendo ignores as well as everyone else. Anybody give a crap about Chibi-Robo? Well, a small minority of fans, but it’s a series people barely talk about, with games that people barely acknowledge and after one console game, was confined to handheld purgatory. After the little robot’s 3DS outing, I don’t know if he’ll ever return, more people are asking for a Startropics game than a Chibi-Robo game. Maybe there’s a reason for this? Whelp, it was on my backlog either way.

   Chibi-Robo!, developed by Skip Ltd. and published by Nintendo, was released in 2005 in Japan and in 2006 in the US as well as Europe. Skip Ltd. has been developing for Nintendo consoles since its inception in 2000, with the first games being the Japan-exclusive bit Generations series for the Game Boy Advance, a series of simple games where you question what the point of them are other than looking nice.

   The plot is about a dysfunctional family known as The Sandersons. And yes, it’s a dumbass Father, a nagging Mother, and a strange child; even for a story written in Japan, cliches are universal. The strange child with a frog hat that speaks in ‘ribbits’ is named Jenny and it’s her birthday. The family celebrates with a party and Jenny gets a couple of gifts. But her father gives her a special present, a silent 10 centimetre-tall robot named Chibi-Robo, with Jenny excited and the mother questioning how the father was able to afford such a thing.

   Chibi-Robo, and his manager, Telly Vision, are to make the family happy in one way or another, from cleaning the house to solving family issues and the problems of the toys in the house, who happen to come to life à la Toy Story, though unlike that movie, they only come to life at night.

   The plot is not what I expected, without spoiling it, you have to commend the developers for creating such an odd tale, with memorable characters and some themes I never expected to see in a Nintendo game, a few of which were quite shocking. One theme that came out of nowhere was one I wished was brought up and they did. I know there are certain situations that take place in Chibi Robo! that people might deem questionable, but children are not idiots and a bit of reality can help them in the future. Everyone talks through Japanese mumbling so there’s text, though I hate that the text scrolls very slow and there’s no way to change the speed unfortunately, since there will be some long cutscenes in the game. This issue also occurs every time you get a cleaning bonus or having to charge yourself which I’ll explain in a bit.

   The game is a platform-adventure game where you play as Chibi-Robo, a small chrome robot in a normal-sized house to the family, but a massive world for Chibi. The game has a day/night cycle where you will spend a day doing your errands, but will end eventually and you go back to your Chibi-House and add up your Happy Points, as well as buying items. Once you’re done, you continue to do your errands at night, and vice versa, but the cycle will bring out something different depending on which time you’re playing in, as well as plot progression. You can explore many different areas in the house, like the Living Room, Foyer, Kitchen, Basement and the Backyard.

   You start by picking up rubbish from the floor and throw it in the bin, but you’ll find other items to help you throughout the game, though some are more situational than others. The Toothbrush will clean up the dirt from the floor. The Chibi-Copter will let you hover for a little bit, allowing you to float down to the ground since falling damage is a thing in this game. The Chibi-Blaster is your only weapon in this game and you use it to remove certain stickers and the only enemies in the game known as Spydorz. The Spoon is your shovel, with it you can dig holes among other things. The Squirter is a kid-friendly syringe and you can suck up certain liquids with it, but water is of the most important as you can clean walls since other liquids are either situational or not used for anything. The Mug is a shield, but you’ll only use it once.

   However, most of these items that you use take up your battery life. In fact, even walking drains your battery, and if you run out of power, you stop and you lose half the Moolah, the game’s currency. The one way to not run out is to plug yourself into a socket, recharging yourself and continuing on.

   When you clean up the place, you make family members happy and by doing certain objectives, you earn Happy Points. You must collect as many Happy Points as you can. Collecting a set amount each time will upgrade your battery so you have a longer battery life each time. The main goal is to get to Super Chibi-Robo, where you just get a suit for your troubles. Speaking of which, you also get suits, I won’t explain most of them since they’re situational, but the Frog Suit for example can be used for a side-quest and at one point, can bring joy to Jenny…and actually allows you to figure out why she only talks in frog.

   You also earn Moolah from collecting them out of the blue or cleaning bonuses, and there’s so many ways to get Moolah. With the Moolah you collect you can buy items in your Chibi-House. These include timers that will increase the amount of time you’ll spend in the day and night. You can even buy upgrades like an extra charger where you get a little bit of power if you run out, upgrades for your Chibi-Blaster, even seeds to grow flowers, and more.

   But later in the game, once you get the Chibi-Blaster, Spydorz will appear that you can blast, and they’ll leave scrap metal. This scrap can be used to create Utili-bots, like ladders, bridges and warps for different parts of the areas of the house. Most of them are used to get to parts of the house once impossible to reach.

   So you’re mostly playing butler to a family with more issues than one could count, mostly caused by the lazy, bumbling idiot of a father (kind of hits too close to home), but he redeems himself in one way or another later on. The mother is mostly in the kitchen at first…*peeks at the window for a mob*…Jenny is a strange kid who likes Frogs and is my favourite human character, some events leave her in some situation where you almost feel sorry for her amongst issues in the family household, though I wished that was explored further.

   The toys have their own layers of personality, ranging from moral to darker themes like losing a loved one. I really enjoy dark themes when done right to make a character complex, but at least doesn’t get too extreme. Examples of characters include Drake Redcrest the space hunter…OK, he’s technically Buzz Lightyear. Sophie is the girly character, but first time seeing her freaked me out. She’s in love with Drake, pretty fly for a dog chew toy.

   The game is a very unique experience, what I thought was going to be some simulation of taking care of the house is…well yeah, you take care of the house but there’s a plot involving some wacky hi-jinks. It was fun to play since my OCD tendencies cause me to make sure the house is spotless given the limited time, but the more you clean the house, the more your bonus increases and the family appreciates the work you put into keeping the house clean.

   If you’re looking for action, you’re not getting much other than platforming and every ladder is a death trap since going up it isn’t bad but going down is a nightmare because you have to be at the very edge to even trigger the ability to go down. Shooting Spydorz only takes about 10 seconds if you’re good enough and you won’t spend much time doing that anyway, plus they’re generous with the amount of scrap metal they drop since you’ll always have enough to get the next Utili-bot. It’s the final parts of the level where the Chibi-Blaster is the only focus and you question why the game needed a final boss. Though, it’s not too hard to if you value your battery life.

   The graphics look meh, even for the GameCube, with models that haven’t aged well. In fact, it reminds me of graphics from the Dreamcast, and keep in mind, this was released in 2006, a time when the Nintendo Wii was months away from being released. The level design is great, though a bit simple, but it’s good enough. You still get the immersion of feeling small amongst the large characters, but at least there’s other characters near enough your size to make it less jarring.

   The music sort of reminds me of Earthbound in that some pieces sound odd. Each time Chibi-Robo takes a step or uses an item, a note or jingle plays, with some different material floors having different instruments playing said notes. I wasn’t particularly annoyed  by this, but it’s irritating when you sometimes have the addition of background music which is when it really gets on my nerves, but once the background music stops, the notes are nice to hear. Funny how the background music is less memorable than the unique sound patterns from actions and noises made my human mouths.

   Overall, Chibi-Robo is a fun title…to me. I know there are others who have played it and loved it, but I’m really questioning on how I can recommend this to most people since it depends on what you want to play. I’ll play anything, even a game like this, and I was satisfied when I finished it, but some might find it boring, or they might find it too different to truly enjoy it. The game is a fun experience that depends on you and maybe whatever I said has convinced you to try the game out, nuisances and all.

   Though trying to pick up a copy might be difficult since the game is very expensive. It was re-released on the Wii as part of its New Play Control! range, but it was only released in Japan so there was no chance of the west getting a second chance to experience this again, which is a damn shame.

You can get Chibi-Robo on the Nintendo GameCube.

Check out The Every Gamer’s blog for more great reviews!

Leave a Comment